The Bomb Robot Drone Killing Precedent

As you’ve no doubt heard, sniper(s) attacked the police protecting a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas last night, killing 5 cops. Dallas Police have released the name of one perpetrator, who was killed by police: Micah Johnson. Johnson was apparently an Army veteran; he was what experts deemed “tactically professional” based on review of the attack.

The entire attack was a tragic escalation of racial tensions in this country.

In a press conference today, Dallas Police Chief David Brown revealed this about the stand-off with Johnson:

Let me walk through the stand-off that had occurred–or was occurring–at El Centro on the second floor. The college there in downtown Dallas. We cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours. Negotiations broke down. We had an exchange of gunfire with the suspect. We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was. Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger. The suspect is deceased as a result of detonating the bomb. The reporting that the suspect killed himself is not accurate. We’ve confirmed that he’s been deceased because of the detonation of the bomb.

This is the first known killing by a weaponized drone as part of policing in the United States.

The use of the bomb robot in this operation raises several tactical questions. It is possible — though unlikely — that the weaponized drone was present for negotiations, which would raise interesting questions about those discussions (three other people are in custody and they are not cooperating; Johnson claimed, apparently falsely, that he operated alone).

I’m more interested in the tactical question of delivering a lethal bomb rather than something that might have demobilized him — perhaps tear gas?– and permitted police to take him alive.

Those questions about the tactical use of this robot will be answered as the police release more details.

There is, of course, the larger question of what kind of precedent this serves. I’ve long been on the record arguing that a targeted killing in the US would look more like the killing of Luqman Abdullah or Fred Hampton. But the use of a wheeled robot changes that possibility.

Remember, the logic of the Anwar al-Awlaki memos depend on two things: law enforcement precedents authorizing the use of force when officers — or innocent bystanders — lives are at risk.

Even in domestic law enforcement operations, the Court has noted that “[w]here the officer has probable cause to believe that the suspect poses a threat of serious physical harm, either to the officer or to others, it is not constitutionally unreasonable to prevent escape by using deadly force.” Garner, 471 U.S. at II. Thus, “if the suspect threatens the officer with a weapon or there is probable cause to believe that he has committed a crime involving the infliction or threatened infliction of ~erious physical harm, deadly force may be used if necessary to prevent escape and if. where feasible, some warning has been given.” ld. at 11-12.

Given the attacks on other officers and the exchange of gunfire before using the robot, DPD will easily reach the bar of imminent threat (even though they might have been able to use non-lethal means).

The other thing included in the Awlaki memos (though in unredacted form, in Harold Koh’s comments rather than the OLC memos) is language finding that the use of drones don’t make a legal difference in use of force calculations.

Second, some have challenged the very use of advanced weapons systems, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, for lethal operations. But the rules that govern targeting do not turn on the type of weapon system used, and there is no prohibition under the laws of war on the use of technologically advanced weapons systems in armed conflict– such as pilotless aircraft or so-called smart bombs– so long as they are employed in conformity with applicable laws of war. Indeed, using such advanced technologies can ensure both that the best intelligence is available for planning operations, and that civilian casualties are minimized in carrying out such operations.

In other words, there’s little reason to believe this use of force will be legally questionable, at all. Which means there’s little question that it might be used a precedent by other police departments. (And let it be noted that Dallas is considered a far better run police department on such issues than other big cities, much less other less professional offices.) And given the way the Executive has already blurred the line between police usage and intelligence usage, we might expect the same to happen in the future.

There may have been other options available here (and note, in the press conference the mayor thanked the FBI, so it’s not clear whether DPD made this decision on their own), but this will be deemed reasonable.

Which doesn’t mean other, unreasonable uses of this precedent aren’t coming down the pike.

Update: Dallas police have now said that they think Johnson was the only shooter. I’m not sure whether that means the other three suspects were not accomplices at all or helped in some way that did not involve shooting.

Still, consider that Johnson’s military experience was as a mason, not any kind of highly skipped soldier. He managed to do a great deal of damage working off his reserve training.

78 replies
  1. edge says:

    Robot issue aside, i’m curious about police using lethal explosives (I’m not talking tear gas canisters, or flash bombs). Are grenades a standard part of a police arsenal?

    • Brian Chicago says:

      The odd FAA airspace closure in the final hours of a standoff where the guy was on the second story of a five story structure that was surrounded by police and the use of a robot “bomb” in the killing seem connected; right?

  2. Denis says:

    W/out taking issue w/ your larger points, with which I agree, I do
    take issue with conflating “robot” and “drone.” This has has nothing
    to do with drones.
    The word “drone” in the same sentence with “killing” has a special
    meaning of weapons fired from airborne platforms. And it’s a
    hot-button issue. A drone-kill is more akin to a sniper shot.
    Robotic delivery of a lethal or non-lethal device is more akin to
    ending a siege, a practice that goes back millennia in various
    non-computerized forms.
    How is delivering a bomb via robot any different than putting
    it in a red Radio Flyer Wagon and pushing toward the suspect,
    or lobbing a grenade?
    This is not to say that the question of whether non-lethal
    means could have, and should have, been used is not a valid one.

    • John Casper says:

      you wrote, “A drone-kill is more akin to a sniper shot.”
      1. So, a “sniper,” not using elevation is not a, “sniper?”

      You wrote, “Robotic delivery of a lethal or non-lethal device is more akin to
      ending a siege, a practice that goes back millennia in various
      non-computerized forms.”

      2. How do you classify WWII pre-invasion naval and air bombardments?
      2.1 Were those drones?
      2.2 Were they robotic?
      2.2 Were those WW2 examples, “ending a siege?”
      2.4 Please provide examples of, “robotic delivery,” that, “goes back millennia.”

      You wrote, “How is delivering a bomb via robot any different than putting
      it in a red Radio Flyer Wagon and pushing toward the suspect,…”

      Front wheels on Radio Flyer Wagon turn.

      2.2 How were you planning to steer it?

      You wrote, “or lobbing a grenade?”

      2.3 Is a grenade at any point, “akin,” to a drone?

      • Denis says:


        Yo, thanks for making the effort to explain why my comment (#2)
        confused you so badly. Whilst my comment was about what I feel is
        an improper conflation of “robot” and “drone” and the political/propaganda
        implications of that conflation, you did not take issue with my point.
        Rather, your problem was my juxtaposition of two analogies, sniper-fire
        w/ drones and siege w/ bomb delivery devices.
        You, apparently, see being “elevated” as the feature that connects snipers
        to drones. I didn’t say that, and I’m not sure I even thought of it at the time,
        but, yes, drones are always elevated and snipers often are. Thank you.
        I was thinking more in terms that snipers/drones deliver their deadly
        projectiles from a considerable distance and are unseen by the victim.
        “Out of the blue” is the demotic phrase used to describe this feature.
        I was sure that analogy would have been obvious to the reader. Maybe not.
        Robots and “ending siege.” Yeah, you’re right; I screwed that one. Should
        have said “laying siege.” And it didn’t help that you twisted my words. I
        did not say “robotic delivery” goes back millennia, I said “ending a siege” does.
        With these clarifications I’m sure that maybe you can, on your own, come
        up with historical examples of laying siege with wheeled devices. Here’s
        a hint to get you started: big horse.
        Having given the “drone” v. “robot” semantic issue some more thought, I’d
        add the additional gripe that the term “robot” is butchered by the majority
        of people writing on this tragedy. A device like a drone and a bomb
        delivery device, probably like the one used in Dallas, are remotely
        controlled devices. A human at a distance controls where they go, who
        they kill, and when they kill them, all in real time. A human “pulls the
        trigger,” IOW. Such remotely controlled devices have cameras that
        act as the operator’s eyes.
        “Robot,” OTOH, refers to an autonomous device, one that will light
        your cigarette, vacuum your floors, or, in a pinch, deliver plans of
        the Death Star via a holographic projector. R2-D2 was a robot not
        because it had wheels or could talk, but because it was autonomous.
        (I will leave it as an extra credit exercise to determine whether a
        disembodied AI personality like HAL 9000 is a robot, or not.)
        There are rumors that the USG is developing autonomous drones that
        will be programmed to fly themselves and make their own decisions
        about who to kill and when. That would be a “robotic drone,” but
        drones that are controlled by humans are not robotic. And a wheeled
        vehicle guided by humans is not a robot, either. Nor is it a drone.
        I believe that you will find herein (at least implicit) responses to all of
        your carefully numbered points. Thanks again for taking the time to
        share your confusion.

  3. Bardi says:

    Very good analysis. I thought at first the use of a robot carrying a bomb sounded similar to the US use of drones in the middle east, with all their lack of accountability.

    I like what you say about options. In my mind, capturing the suspect alive should be first priority. Until a full discussion about the situation comes out, I am left with the idea that someone decided that the cost, both real and political, was too much. Of course we just lost the opportunity to help this guy and those with similar viewpoints.

    Sometimes it seems we would rather shoot ourselves in the foot than to roll up our sleeves and actually solve the problem.

  4. John Casper says:

    Apologies for messing up my numbers.
    2. How do you classify WWII pre-invasion naval and air bombardments?
    2.1 Were those drones?
    2.2 Were they robotic?
    2.3 Were those WW2 examples, “ending a siege?”
    2.4 Please provide examples of, “robotic delivery,” that, “goes back millennia.”

    You wrote, “How is delivering a bomb via robot any different than putting
    it in a red Radio Flyer Wagon and pushing toward the suspect,…”
    Front wheels on Radio Flyer Wagon turn.
    3. How were you planning to steer it?
    You wrote, “or lobbing a grenade?”
    3.1 Is a grenade at any point, “akin,” to a drone?

  5. scribe says:

    The last time I remember the police using an explosive to end a standoff was when the Honorable Wilson W. Goode had his Philadelphia Police toss an explosive out of a helicopter onto the roof of the West Philadelphia rowhouse occupied by the group
    MOVE during a standoff. That was back in May, 1985. Of course, robots had not been invented as of that time, so they had real humans drop the bomb. That one, they got their hands on some C-4 and made what was, in essence, a satchel charge.
    That they killed 11 people, some of them toddlers, and burned down the entire neighborhood in the process, seemed not to matter to them too much.
    But, it’s not like the local feed stores anywhere still stock dynamite any more.
    Back in the early 90s, I was a young attorney and one of my job’s ambits was as the deputy attorney for a municipality of about 30,000 people. We had a police chief who was nothing if not an empire builder (along with a couple other departments of like demeanor). At one point, he decided his force needed a helicopter. He slushed enough money around to get the helipad paved, but we managed to stop him from leveraging that into a helicopter. But then there was the grenade saga. Her decided his force needed hand grenades – explosive, not tear gas – because “you never know”. That was the extent of his reasoning: “you never know”. This went on for a while, with our office telling him “no”, the mayor telling him “no” and the chief trying all manners of fearmongering and insinuation that we “were against the police” to overcome our resistance.
    Ultimately, his insubordinate conduct got to the point that we were able to compel him to retire, without his grenades. Later, there turned up a dummy grenade, painted gold and attached to a plaque, as a reminder.
    But I tend to believe the Dallas PD did not use a grenade but rather went with the IED, even if they could have gotten a grenade. Getting a robot to set off a grenade would be too involved an operation (technically speaking) while an IED would be relatively easy to lash up in an expedient manner. Pure opinion, that, BTW.

    • Pedinska says:

      Don’t know if it can be classified as an “explosive” but there was also the burner, technical term ‘pyrotechnic tear gas canister’, used on the cabin occupied by Christopher Dorner.

  6. P J Evans says:

    I suspect most large departments have robots for dealing with bombs and other explosive (or suspected explosive) items, and keep humans from being injured. It isn’t a big stretch to think of using one to deliver an explosive in a situation that’s hazardous to humans.

  7. Jim White says:

    Not that I fully endorse the thinking, but I’d make a large bet Dallas PD will say that since Johnson claimed to have bombs during the negotiations, that made approaching him a danger even if incapacitated. By adding their own explosive, they would have triggered any booby trap explosive on or near him.
    They could have gotten around this, IMO, by incapacitating and then sending in the robot to poke and prod until they assured themselves no trigger devices were left.

  8. Don Bacon says:

    These are assassinations, back-and-forth, often involving police, which mirror US foreign policy. Reagan stopped foreign assassinations by executive order, and Obama has made them a feature of his foreign policy. Suspected “terrorists” i.e. US enemies must be summarily killed.
    As Martin Luther King Jr. explained, when he came out against the Vietnam War, there is a connection between violence abroad and violence at home. He said that he couldn’t ask black militants to lay down their arms without making the same case to Washington.
    Don’t like someone? Kill him. The media is full of stories of the US killing people abroad, and exulting in it, and so it comes home. This killing of one’s enemy is on top of the racism, economic disparity and hopelessness which powers extremism.

    • Procopius says:

      emptywheel: Those questions about the tactical use of this robot will be answered as the police release more details.

      Ha ha! You make the comedy.

      Don Bacon: Reagan stopped foreign assassinations by executive order.

      Ha ha ha! You make more comedy.

      • bmaz says:

        Well, in fact, there has been a ton of additional information released already just since Marcy wrote this post and the DPD Chief indicated that transcripts from audio recordings will be released. I gave one link above, and there is a wealth of information in Chief Brown’s interview with Jake Tapper on CNN this morning. But, hey, why bother with acknowledging actual facts?

        • thatvisionthing says:

          Transcripts AND original audio? Would love a link if you have one, thanks. I like to compare.

  9. John Casper says:

    scribe, nice catch on MOVE standoff in ’85. Wonder when Waco comparisons will surface?


    PJ, agree, assume Fire Departments also need them for dealing with hazardous waste.

    • scribe says:

      I watched it on live TV; you could see the heat coming off the fire it was that intense.
      But, since it was a majority-black neighborhood, the city took its good old time and created no end of roadblocks to taking care of the innocent victims let alone rebuilding the neighborhood.
      I was looking for the famous editorial cartoon of Mayor Goode in a flyer’s helmet and goggles tossing a bomb from an open cockpit, but have been so far unable to find it.

  10. scribe says:

    Worth noting that in 1985, the FBI supplied the Philadelphia Police with the explosives they used on the MOVE house. According to Wikipedia, it was water-gel explosives. As I recall it, water-gel explosives are commonly used for rock blasting and in construction.
    Also worth noting that as of this morning the body count on the Guardian home page showed that American police had killed 566 people this year. This does not excuse or minimize killing police, but should help to keep things in perspective.

  11. rugger9 says:

    I find it curious that the only gunman named (so far) is the one killed by Dallas PD with their robot. The PD has refused to release any other names from this “gang of four”. Conveniently, the dead suspect happened to be African-American, but what about the others? What about how they were taken into custody? On the plus side, DPD doesn’t have the reputation of other departments of shooting first, but I find it curious that such details were already out there on the dead suspect and not the live ones.

    One thing to consider is who profits from this, such as the NRA, Deadbeat Dad Joe Walsh and Murdoch’s NY Post trying to incite a race war. I can only guess what Stormfront has going on its site now along with the rest of Freeperville. This detail is important because it does NOT help BLM or the cops, so the question about whodunit becomes very important.

    • P J Evans says:

      They cleared the other people, the ones busted on the road.
      The Dallas PD owes serious, sincere apologies (and probably real protection) to the guy they announced as a ‘person of interest’, though. He’s been getting death threats.

  12. rugger9 says:

    Also, let’s address why the DPD also fingered the so-called “suspect” who also wasn’t white, and interrogated him adversely without his lawyer present. The lawyers were kept outside at the station and claimed to have been threatened by a DPD cop “un-holstering” his weapon, as reported by C&L.

    So, are the other three guys white? Or, “connected”?

  13. omphaloscepsis says:

    Some pop technology sites:

    “Some are reporting that the operation was similar to a technique often used in Iraq, involving MARCbots. We’ve reached out to the Dallas Police Department to confirm these details.

    Another popular police robot called Packbot, built by Endeavor Robotics, has been used in several police operations, including the Boston Marathon bomber manhunt in 2013. However, none of these bots were directly intended or used to injure or kill a suspect.”

    “the robot in question was designed for bomb defusal, but was repurposed for detonation.”

    “Approximately 200 law enforcement agencies — federal, state and local — across the U.S. have at least one so-called ‘bomb robot’ provided by the 1033 Program, according to a 2015 report published by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.”

    All of these sites reference this source:

  14. Evangelista says:

    ‘Robots’ are, technically, ‘logic-program controlled mechanical devices.’ Robots can be stationary or mobile. Mobile robots are robotic mechanisms whose entire mechanism may change locations, moving, or may be moved, in course of operation. The motions of mobile robots may be confined, e.g., to a specific track, or may be free, with sensors, or an operator controlling the whole mechanism motions.

    ‘Drones’ are operator controlled free-moving robotic devices, whose operators control their movements in ‘real’ ( often ‘lag’) time, usually by radio, wirelessly, sometimes by wire, through signals sent to logic-circuitrys that translate the received signal to servo control signals that provide the logic controlled device robotic control movements.

    So-called ‘bomb-robots’ are remote-operator controlled mobile robotic devices. They are called ‘bomb-robots’ because they are designed to operate in bomb, or suspected bomb, environments, being used to contain, defuse, dismantle or detonate bombs, though they do not need to. ‘Bomb-robots’ can be used for a variety of uses, from atmosphere testing too surveillance, to message-deliveries (into confined or dangerous spaces, into or through deadly environments, etc.)
    All ‘bomb-robots’ are necessarily UVs (Unmanned vehicles) and so are ‘drones’, or ‘drone robots’.
    Ships’ guns are not drones, bombs dropped, or launched from manned vehicles are not drone-delivered.

    If bomb-deliveries were all that ‘bomb-robot’ ‘drones’ were, or were likely, to be used for a delivery of a bomb to blow up a suspect, as in Dallas, might be considered “a clever device”, the first time. The device used by police, who, by definition of ‘police’ are not supposed to ‘simply assassinate’ to resolve siege and stand-off situations, cannot be classified as ‘clever’. The best would be classification as “inappropriate”. A more appropriate classification would be “stupid”. The use will taint drone ‘bomb-robot’ usability in other than assassination scenarios, since assassination-bombing being associated to ‘bomb-robots’ will cause those being approached by a ‘bomb-robot’ to assume that the drone-device’s purpose, leading to counter-attacks against the drone devices in all suspicion-inducing circumstances.

    The result is not drone, or robot, defined. It is escalation in confrontation by the stupid being stupid and doing stupid things that, for the stupid being stupid, seem clever to them. Compare to the overseas component of the same government ‘Dallas’ is component in using civilian disease-control programs for stalking-horses in covert military operations, as in the CIA use of healt programs’ polio vaccination operations for cover in its militant operation activities, which has brought those civil programs to halts everywhere there is suspicion of possible repetition (and gotten innocent program participants killed in retaliation).

    The Dallas business is the ancient fundamental of escalation, counter-escalation, counter-counter-escalation and so on. Look for the next step up in the conflict to be worse, and review the Middle-East today for example of eventual culmination.

    • bmaz says:

      Rubbish. Would the police tactical squad have been legally justified to enter the room and shoot Johnson with a gun?
      Of course they would. Lethal force is either justified and legal, or it is not. It clearly was here given the carnage, secreted location and imminent threat (indeed belligerent promise) of further killing by Johnson. Well then the caterwauling about the fact it was an explosive charge as opposed to a gun is simply inane. If there was imminence and justification, then to not use the method that protects the most lives, including the police, would have been asinine.
      Now, if you want to readdress the use of force guidelines, presumptions, limitations and training in the above, be my guest. I have been arguing for that for 30 years and will gladly join the effort. But to argue there was something magically beyond the pale in Dallas is naive under use of lethal force law and policy as it currently exists strikes me as naive.

      • bloopie2 says:

        100% correct. Common sense–when you’ve gone that far in killing, and you say that there is more to come, you have forfeited your right to live any longer. Any “civil rights” you might possess, are in the past.

      • galljdaj says:

        Well bmaz you’ve never been strong on theory, put plentiful of hysteria.

        There ‘theory’ here is; Collateral Damage… is OK! that’s front and center for a Police State!

        • bmaz says:

          What in the living hell are you jabbering about?
          I have about a decade of consistency here, and I would challenge you to support your inane claim of “hysteria”. My bet is you have nothing. But, seriously, bring your best shot. It will be critiqued.

        • bmaz says:

          By the way galljdaj, exactly what “collateral damage” are you referring to here, other than that which was prevented by this particular use of lethal force and not exacerbated by blind insistence on sending in more officers to Johnson’s fusillade? How many more human casualties would you and Evangelista feel justified to encounter Johnson with bullets as opposed to a different explosive device?

      • Evangelista says:


        Your 1:07pm today (#27) comment indicates that you misread my 7:18pm yesterday (#17) comment. I did not address “use of force” or “use of force guidelines”. I did not address legality, or “legality” under any theories or legal, or “legal” systems. My address was to stupidity. Specifically the stupidity of using a multi-use and multi-purpose device for a deliberately lethal purpose where other methods would have been more appropriate. I addressed the effect the use would have on future cases where non-lethal resolution efforts might be attempted using the multi-use device.

        I touched only lightly, and obliquely, in my last paragraph, on, not the fact that under the Constitutional law of the Constitutionally-constituted United States the police action would be irresponsible and illegal, but on the effect the current commercial-law constituted United States “use of force” usage has, and is today being demonstrated to have, in conflict situations, but that force, which seems to the simple-minded and to adrenalin-driven intellects (a major precursor of stupidity) a “quick-and-easy” “do-and-be-done-with-it” solution, is not so, and is the opposite in misuse situations, where its use in lieu of correct procedures exacerebates instead of resolves (cf. the Iraq war and its current blooms, the Fergussen, MO aftermath situation etc.), escalating, and multiplying, bringing counter-actions that seem to demand greater force and finally the kind of grand-scale destruction the Furgussen case demonstrates.

        The suggestion implied in your post that I might have argued a difference between use of a firearm and an explosive device amuses me, since I recognize that firearms to be explosive devices. The difference between a gun and a bomb is that the gun directs the effects of its explosion in a single direction. Bombs can be made to direct their explosions, but even the most directed are beyond shotguns, which spray, in indiscrimination. I recognize the idiocity we see today in police shooting “procedures”, in populous areas, to shoot in any situation and “empty the gun” shooting, causing multiple projectiles to be flying every which way (especially with incident-demonstrated police “marksmanship” or lack thereof) to be the next thing to setting off of bombs. The pants-wettingly scared and witless psycho-cop idiots are already blazing away indiscriminately with “flashbangs”, grenades without shrapnel, blowing up babies and damaging innocent parties’ hearing in wide radii around, so who does not anticipate that they will start adding shrapnel to their flashbangs, and then advance to “real grenades” to “save lives” ( which if it was not bullshit blather would begin with using civilized procedures (as the law of the Constitutional United States requires) instead of their more “cop-fun” “HUA” (means Head Up Arse, I think) violent assault tactics.

        I do take exception to your statement that, “If there was imminence and justification, then to not use the method that protects the most lives, including the police, would have been asinine.” Not for the reason above, though it would be one if one were making a list, but because the law of the Constitutionally-constituted United States (the Republic, admittedly a ‘dead-letter’ at this point in the history of the United States) does not, could not and can not put lives above, or ahead of, the principles of the Republic. It is your argument that “lives” (whatever is meant by that) are somehow terribly preciously important. Granted that the current commercial-law constituted United States was born of skulduggery, manipulation and public-servant self-aggrandizements, misuses of assigned prerogatives and abuses of entrusted powers, not slaughter, the United States Republic the current commercial-law United States overthrew was, as all republics have been, and as the United States Republic, when it re-emerges (eventually) will be, born of slaughter. Lives, many, many lives, have been put in danger, at risk, and have been lost to bring the principles that make republics republic to the fore and to force. It is assinine to assign preservation of lives to be, then, somehow paramount amd more important than the principles so many lives have been given to bring forward and preserve.

        To throw away the principle of presumption of innocence for police convenience and to make police-workers safe (or in their noble-sounding bullshit parlance, “to save lives”)? Are you kidding? Or are you not thinking? Throw away the Republic so that scaredy-cops don’t have to wring out their drawers? So that any shit-headed aggressive psychotic grown-up (physically matured) ex-playground-bully can get a high-paying job that lets him step up his bullying to the next level, with public officials who side with them and encourage them, instead of reprimanding and punishing them, like those meany ones in grade-school used to do?

        It don’t take no crystal-ball to see where the present situation of the United States came from, or how it got here, or that it is going to get worse, and worse, and worse, until we the people start slapping the usurpers and expediters down. We need to start by putting all law school presidents and deans into the can pending trials, to let them explain, if they can, why they have countenanced and condoned the overturning ot the law of the United States Constitution. Then we need to move along to all of the judges, as soon as the gibbets are clear of the riff-raff who turned law-schools into lawlessness-schools, giving them fair trials, with opportunities to prove they are unable to read at levels requisite to understand what “Presumption of Innocence” means. Prosecutors all we need to do is pull, or logically limit, their prosecutor immunities, then run them through the same criminal procedures they used to empower their abuses, using their own precedents for precedents. Then we would have to proceed on to the other branches that have participated in the overturning of We the People’s Constitutionally defined government system for the United States.

        Of course imagining the here described occurring to resolve the situation the abuses by the last several generations of self-aggrandizing jurists have cornerstoned and foundationed, and authorized and approved short-cuttings of to create is naive.

        I am not naive, so I recognize that, instead, it is going to take some more of the same old slaughter, the same old widespread destruction.

        • bmaz says:

          At least “galljdaj made a concise argument. Do you have anything less than 1,000 words+ of complete blather? I will be happy to respond if you actually do.

          • Evangelista says:


            My short-reply to your off-topic meander would have been no-reply at all; to write you off as someone grabbing up his own bone (or chew-toy) and running with it as if he thought someone else might want it. I was, in fact, complimenting your intellect, or what I assumed your comprehension capability, in providing a substantial reply. Reading your handlings of “concise argument”, demonstrated in your postings below your reply to my explanation (#34) that you complain being too long, I feel no compulsion to change my style.

            As for ‘argument’ between us, I see a ‘Shavian gulf’ (as Shaw saw between Heaven and Hell for differently interest-oriented peoples), which precludes real exchange: My orientation is toward the foundations and fundamental shoring of legal systems, your orientation is toward the ‘gingerbread’, the superficial decor components that mark differences between Styles and periods, Queen Anne style justice, Victorian style justice, Mafia style [popular today in the USA at presidential level (“Send a drone to take ‘im out.. I don’t care if you take out everyone in the restaurant/wedding-party wit’ ‘im!”), Machiavellian style, Biblical style (eye-for-eye, today styled ‘closure’), Nazi style ( Hello, Enforcement Industry readers!), Democratic style [scare the voters spitless, then give them Hitler’s “final solution” (for any body except Jews), they’ll vote for it], attorneys are Gods style (Greek Gods, Classical Mythology, we can run wild, screw who we want to, like Zeus…), Save Lives! style (let police run wild, cull the “riff-raff” to ‘save lives’) and so on, and on, make superficial arguments, emotional arguments, arguments on ‘precedents’ (what a judge let you get away with last week).

            My arguments are to instabilities in the foundational structures, convenience covering-overs, shoddy repairs, ignorings of good practices, etc. that threaten the whole structure.

            What you want is a graffiti-artist to argue to be messing up the legal-system gingerbread (“Is it broke, or baroque? In Spray v. Wall, your Honor will recall, the Court said…”).

            [Truth to tell, I write these things for fun, not with any hope to help anyone or improve the future or prevent disaster. I mean, what’s the point to waiting until the morning after the tsunami hits and saying “I told you so.” to a backwash of dead bodies?]

            • bmaz says:

              Well, I’ll give you this much, you certainly are a person with intimate experience as to meandering comments. Other than that, I cannot discern anything probative to respond to in those nearly 400 words.

  15. bloopie2 says:

    Maybe I missed it, but has there been a discussion of the fact that this robot bomb killing was effected in a case in which it was police officers who had been killed rather than civilians? We know that often the cops will (rightly or wrongly) put much more effort into finding and taking out a cop killer than into finding a civilian’s killer. Perhaps they wanted a bit of finality here?
    And of course there were, as Marcy noted, numerous less lethal alternatives available, even at a distance–sound cannons for one, and my favorite, the magnetic audio device (look it up, it’s amazing, it can project sound for a mile of more, loudly enough to disable).
    And you can but one of these for home use!.

  16. bloopie2 says:

    Perhaps the NRA could comment thus: “We are pleased that Mr. Johnson was able to possess a stash of accurate, powerful weapons that are designed solely to kill humans. It is unfortunate that he used them as he did, of course, but we are not responsible for that and, as a result, we bear no responsibility for the ultimate result here. What America needs to do is to put more such weapons into the hands of civilians so that they can stop people like him, government trained killers, who carefully and quietly secret themselves in high places overlooking public spaces with the intent of shooting anyone in sight bearing skin or clothing of the ‘wrong’ color. Amen.”

  17. pdaly says:

    The initial reports of the police’s killing of the suspect was couched as a ‘ticking time bomb’ scenario–that the suspect had hinted he had explosive charges that he might detonate in the area.
    Usually the ticking time bomb scenario has been used to “justify” torture to get information to save lives.
    Now the ticking time bomb scenario has been used to justify killing a suspect.
    Or maybe the police obtained enough information before killing him to be satisfied that there was no ticking time bomb?

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It seems likely that with well over a decade of increasing federalization and military-style weaponization of local law enforcement that the Dallas police could have obtained nearly any weapon they desired. It also seems quite possible that the bomb-delivered-by-remotely-controlled-vehicle (airborne or not) was chosen because after killing five police officers, taking the alleged perpetrator alive was not considered the most important criterion to observe.

    As with terrorism abroad, the response here should not be the he said/she said pablum of the president. Instead of saying black lives matter and so do blue (and green, white, red and brown), one might better say that all lives matter. That wording, however, seems politically untouchable. It would lead one to question why only some colors get special educational, medical and retirement treatment (for example). Or special deference by local law enforcement and prosecutors. (We’ll see more of that, not less, when the Goopers come to Cleveland this summer and, despite the folderol, booze and testosterone, are found to commit no liquor, sex, gambling or violence-based crimes. And nary a parking ticket.)

    I think the responses should look at the underlying bases for such violence. If so, it would be hard not to look at increasing inequality and desperation, including mental illness, and the increasingly hollowed out lives of Main Street Americans, and people who once lived there. Perhaps the questions asked in response to social upheaval in the 1960s should be asked and answered again.

  19. thatvisionthing says:

    Dallas Police Chief David Brown: Let me walk through the stand-off that had occurred–or was occurring–at El Centro on the second floor. The college there in downtown Dallas. We cornered one suspect and we tried to negotiate for several hours. Negotiations broke down.

    Question from an ignorant remote bystander (don’t see/hear news here), just thought I’d ask — does anyone know what the guy was saying during the several hours standoff with police? First thought (Dallas) that comes to my ignorant remote airhead is, what if he said “I’m a patsy”?
    Seriously, is there an audio recording and/or a transcript or anything like that, something more than “he said”?
    Wishing he was livestreaming on his iPhone, btw.
    Apologies if this is a stupid question, I know it could be.
    @Denis, Manchurian candidate on wheels? (child of the ’60s) (hint big horse made me laugh)

  20. bgrothus says:

    The Albuquerque Police Department has used a robot regularly. I personally saw a robot lob tear gas through the windows of a motel where a guy threatening to kill himself was holed up. There were SWAT snipers with guns pointed at him across the street, where I was watching. He would occasionally open and close the curtains, and he pointed a gun at his head. I was sure the police would kill him, but they eventually got him to leave the room and run. At that point they beanbagged him and let loose a “canine officer” on him. I could not believe he did not die. I watched it all with my own eyes. All during this time they were blasting him with threats and demands using loudspeakers. He was having (what a surprise) a mental health crisis.

    APD regularly deploys a robot. It happened again maybe just in the last week or so.

  21. Stephen says:

    Koh wrote: “But the rules that govern targeting do not turn on the type of weapon system used, and there is no prohibition under the laws of war on the use of technologically advanced weapons systems in armed conflict…”
    With all due respect, just how exactly do the LAWS OF WAR apply to the Dallas shooting? Do the laws of war now apply inside the United States?

    • bmaz says:

      Uh, Harold Koh’s discussion is an informative analogy to domestic use of force analysis, same as domestic use of force was to Koh’s analysis. But use of lethal force is an age old legal concept going back well before the founding of the United States. It does not exist in a vacuum. So, it is not the “LAWS OF WAR” that is being discussed, it is the law of use of lethal force.

      • bloopie2 says:

        I think it was in a “Jack Reacher” novel (by Lee Child) that I read something like this: “Look, here’s a gun [Jack, addressing his protectee]. If [the bad guy] comes at you and you believe he intends to kill you, point the gun at him, pull the trigger, and then keep pulling the trigger until nothing happens any more.” That sure sounds like the right advice.

        • bmaz says:

          I am generally suspicious and critical of police. That is actually a bit of an understatement. And yes, the police are trending toward excessive use of force, especially lethal force, and are becoming increasingly militarized. By the same token, the question is always “was the conduct reasonable?” I fail to see how this use of force was not reasonable under the circumstances. Think Jack Reacher was right.

  22. bloopie2 says:

    Consider a Venn diagram with three intersecting ovals. The first oval represents the universe of young men who have been trained by the military how to shoot well–and also how to scope out and set up an ambush position. The second oval represents the universe of nuts—people who can go off at a moment’s notice, or with steam building in them over time, or with PTSD of whatever origin. The third oval represents the universe of people with currently active beefs against something or someone. There will be some intersection, for sure. The problem is that the first oval includes, I would guess, a large percentage of the over two million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars–we have enabled this horrific intersection by waging so much war in the Middle East. Unintended consequences? Perhaps, but certainly foreseeable—John Rambo showed us that over thirty years ago. It may be only blind luck that it took this long.

    • thatvisionthing says:


      “he said”
      Brown considered, told, said, was not available for this story…

      Discussions about how to end the standoff took place between those two media updates. It was in the city’s Emergency Operations Center, in the basement of Dallas City Hall, that Brown considered the possibility of using a bomb to end the life of Micah Xavier Johnson, a 25-year-old Army reservist bent on killing white people, and particularly white officers, according to the chief.

      At a news conference at 12:30 a.m. Friday, Brown told the media that Johnson had been “exchanging gunfire” with officers and that he “was not being very cooperative in these negotiations.” Brown said Johnson told negotiators that “the end is coming, and he’s going to hurt and kill more of us — meaning law enforcement — and that there are bombs all over the place, in this garage and downtown.”

      Brown, who was not available for this story, then stressed that police were “being very careful in our tactics so we don’t injure or put any more of our officers in harm’s way, including the citizens of Dallas, as we negotiate further.”

      Is there any nonpolice-originated version? I’m sorry to be so ignorant. Thanks for the link.

  23. Nell says:

    I can’t help but note that Jim White’s scenario in #8 — using the remotely controlled device to deploy an incapacitating substance and then poking and prodding to try to detonate any bombs — actually uses the device for the purpose for which it was built (and presumably, the purpose for which the police dept. ostensibly acquired it).

    During the time Johnson was trapped in the garage, surely police were searching the rest of the building for explosives, and finding none?

    Can anyone point me to any information (from police or others) confirming that the police cleared the three people they held, and giving any idea when they were released?

    • bmaz says:

      Dallas says the three were questioned and two released afterwards, with the third being detained because he was a prohibited possessor of a firearm. He is to be released upon initial appearance (my guess is that may have occurred by now too).

  24. wayoutwest says:

    Probably the best way to view this execution by bomb is as a vengeance killing to display rapid retaliation for the police losses. The relatively short, four hours, of the standoff seems to show someone didn’t want this suspect to be captured alive and have the publicity his crimes and punishment would have produced along with the possibility of an insanity plea to escape the Texas death penalty.

    There were many options for the cops to handle this standoff without exposing themselves to more danger but they were rejected too quickly in favor of this now no longer novel military bomb the skinny response and it is now an accepted tool in their killing arsenal.

    What to watch for now is how the Texas establishment will deal with groups such as Cop Block who monitor police actions throughout the state legally armed and displaying their weapons as they monitor the cops in action.

    • bmaz says:

      Bollocks. Probably the best way to view it is as a valid, proper and legally justifiable use of lethal force in order to protect both public and officer lives.

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Still ignorant, still wondering: How sure is anyone that the premises are correct beyond a reasonable doubt? Thinking of what people or a jury might hear if Johnson had a voice. Don’t know if this is a case for that, don’t know it isn’t. Thanks.

  25. bmaz says:

    No, it is not, and never will be. Not to mention that “beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply in the least as a standard in determining reasonableness of justification in a use of force analysis.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Not to mention that “beyond a reasonable doubt” does not apply in the least as a standard in determining reasonableness of justification in a use of force analysis.

      Determining reasonableness without determining reasonable doubt? (What could possibly go wrong?)

            • bmaz says:

              Yeah, let’s see here: I have been doing criminal trials and civil rights litigation and trials involving law enforcement and civilian use of force for thirty years. You, on the other hand, clearly don’t know your ass from hole in the ground about the subject or its interaction with Due Process which you so glibly and ignorantly bandied about earlier. You are simply babbling longwinded hollow bullshit, and are too stupid to realize it.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          Hi bmaz, can we talk reasonableness… reasonably?

          @3:02pm How sure is anyone that the premises are correct beyond a reasonable doubt? Thinking of what people or a jury might hear if Johnson had a voice.

          When I said “beyond a reasonable doubt” I meant generally (people) or specifically in court (jury), thinking it should be the same for both, but I think you think it’s a whole different thing in court–should it even get there, which mostly it doesn’t since police are mostly excused from consequences. Which could be our problem, compartmented self-justifying reason versus common community reasoning, internal police versus jury reasoning.
          Noting this on Huffington Post now:

          “I’m going to check IDs,” the officer says in the audio. “I have reason to pull it over. The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery.”

          “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide-set nose,” the officer continues.


          Thomas Kelly, the attorney representing Yanez, confirmed to the Star Tribune that his client had stopped Castile for the broken taillight ― and also because Yanez believed Castile looked like the suspect in an armed robbery that had occurred a couple days earlier.

          “All he had to have was reasonable suspicion to pull him over,” Kelly said.

          Philando Castile was reasonably pulled over because of his nose.
          Driving while black, driving with a nose like that, whatever, driving, is to risk your life at the hands of police (and I’m thinking of Cara Knott too, a young white woman murdered by a San Diego CHP officer when he stopped her), yet there is no jury in traffic court to test reason (much less a fully informed jury like we used to argue about), so people posting videos are about the only way for the public to weigh in, to do any kind of checking and balancing at this most basic, common level of interaction with police. It won’t happen in the courts, with all the compartmented “reasonablenesses” I think you’re describing. If police abuse happens when people are helpless to resist… I’m assuming all states are like mine, no jury possible in traffic court or for low-level pay-the-fine tickets.
          When Ferguson happened, and the stories of how the police massively used traffic tickets to shake down black people and build their own coffers, I thought the place I’d start to fix things is put juries in traffic court. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you can’t, in fact it doesn’t say you CAN have no juries in court cases, and I wonder if in fact it might be exactly the thing that could make law work–no trial of any kind, no penalty without the posibility of a jury. Has it been tried?
          So that’s my question, your assessment of the civic use of “reasonableness” from your point of view with years of court experience and how it applies to the exercise of authority in a democracy. Conversely, what you think might be a place to fix a systemic problem, if you see it as I do as a systemic problem.

          Article III:

          The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State;—between Citizens of different States;—between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

          In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

          Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

          My bold. Hey. Like, when all else fails, read the instructions? Would also like to say that years ago in California you used to be able to request a jury in your traffic court case, but Gov. Ronald Reagan changed that. What could possibly go wrong?

  26. Denis says:

    bmaz on July 10, 2016 at 7:19 am
    “the police are trending toward excessive use of force”
    Trending????? And shall we know thee as “The Queen of Absurd
    I’m sure you’re thinking of trending cops like Daniel Andrew who
    punched the b’jesus out of a great-grandmother along an LA freeway
    because she didn’t comply with a verbal order; and Frankie Powell,
    the Knoxville pig video’d choking a handcuffed university kid into
    unconsciousness; and Chicago cop Steven Mandell who ran his private
    torture chamber, which was in addition to the “official” CPD torture
    chamber at Homan Square – I could go on all day . Indeed . . . there
    is a “trend” here. I would characterize it as a trend toward officially
    and judicially sanctioned psychopathology and it’s going to be a lot
    more obvious if you’re black.
    Or is this a “trend” at all? If my experience is any indication, the only
    trend here is technology and the ability to show the whole world
    cop-violence that has been hidden for generations.
    The only thing we know about the end of Johnson’s life is what the cops
    are telling us. And the one sure thing we know about the cops is that
    they are compulsive liars, and that is 100% true when defending
    themselves against accusations of excessive force. I am just waiting
    for them to say “He was reaching for his waistband,” which has been
    chiseled into the universal cop-script by the FOP.
    Since there is no reliable information at this point on what Johnson was
    doing, or saying, or, least of all, his state of mind in those last couple of
    hours, there are no valid grounds for analyzing the cops’ decision, or
    concluding that it was or wasn’t justified. For all we know Johnson was
    begging to surrender and they pinned him down until the bomb could
    be delivered.
    The other thing we know about cops generally, perhaps universally, is that
    they view one important aspect of their job as exacting punishment from
    those they perceive as wrong-doers, particularly those perceived wrong-does
    who push back by standing up for their constitutional rights. So in those
    rare occasions (about 40 per year according to the FBI) when cops are
    “feloniously killed” (FBI’s term) you can bet the cops’ penchant for exacting
    punishment from such wrong-doers will be exacerbated 100-fold.
    Having done my dump on the cops and their trending excessive force, I
    will agree that if Johnson was still firing, or even had a gun in his hand, he
    was legal game by whatever means were available. Those with visible
    weapons in their hands are in a different class altogether than Philando
    Castile or Alton Sterling, and I think most people, including most black
    people, agree. But even a cop-killer is entitled to due process if his
    hands are up.
    So if you’re going to say that Johnson was still firing, I’m going to ask
    how do you know, and if you answer that’s what the cops say, I’m just
    going to laugh my ass off. If and when the cops show body cam footage
    to back their story up, then I’ll probably agree with you, but until then
    my inclination is to disbelieve whatever the cops say.

    • bmaz says:

      Man, you come up with some consistently goofy stuff. And have no grasp of use of force law whatsoever.

  27. wayoutwest says:

    The Feds are wasting no time in connecting this incident with Black militant groups with references to ‘inspired or directed by’ in the latest AP report.

    The reactionary supporters of law and order are already coming to the aid of the slave patrols and will probably offer more apologia when the death squads we saw in the ’60s reappear to eliminate any radical resistance to the almost daily cop murders of minorities.

    The fact that most of these vicious attacks are filmed and widely distributed doesn’t seem to have any restraining effect on the occupying forces or those in positions of power they serve. The affected minorities are responding with useless demonstrations confronting people who don’t care and the videos themselves seem to have become little more than murder-porn for the masses who won’t respond in any meaningful way.

    • bmaz says:

      “The Feds” huh? Got a link for that? Cause I have seen no such thing at all from either Obama, Lynch or Jeh Johnson. State+local cops, and right wing asswipes, yes, but not from any Feds.

      • wayoutwest says:

        The jaw parts may be local but Homeland Security is where their information comes from and as we learned after Occupy was crushed in many locations it was the Feds directing the crackdown.

        It’s also suspect how BLM is being highlighted in these demonstrations when the Texas demo was organized by local religious groups and in Baton Rouge DeRay McKesson is being spotlighted as a BLM leader when he is no such thing and admits he doesn’t represent them.

  28. Denis says:

    bloopie2 on July 10, 2016 at 6:40 am In reply to bmaz

    “I think it was in a “Jack Reacher” novel (by Lee Child) that I read something like this: “Look, here’s a gun [Jack, addressing his protectee]. If [the bad guy] comes at you and you believe he intends to kill you, point the gun at him, pull the trigger, and then keep pulling the trigger until nothing happens any more.” That sure sounds like the right advice.”

    bmaz on July 10, 2016 at 7:19 am In reply to bloopie2

    Think Jack Reacher was right.

    Someone “believes” that the bad guy “intends” to kill them and so
    that justifies emptying their magazine into him – this is your freaking
    idea of “use of force law??” WTF?? Keep your eye on the Laquan
    McDonald case. The defense for the turd Chi cop who emptied his
    mag into McDonald is that he believed the kid was going to harm him.
    We’ll see how your version of “use of force law” works out.
    bmaz on July 10, 2016 at 5:31 pm In reply to Denis

    “Man, you come up with some consistently goofy stuff. And have no grasp of use of force law whatsoever.”

    My shit may seem “goofy” to you but: 1) it’s legally tight, 2) it won’t get
    300 unarmed people killed per year, and 3) it would lower the total
    1000/yr body count from cop-killings substantially. BTW, that shit you
    call “goofy” is also called “procedural due process.” Google it.
    You’re throwing all this crap around about the cops doing the right thing
    in Dallas, and you don’t have a clue what actually happened. All you
    know is what the cops have said. Police unions all over the country
    love people like you to spin their shit to.
    You’re out of your element, dude.

    • bmaz says:

      You quite clearly wouldn’t recognize established use of force law if it bit you in the ass.

      “Dude”. You are simply precious. And completely full of shit.

  29. wayoutwest says:

    The pigs in Louisiana are ratcheting up their game armed with real assault weapons to intimidate the demonstrators while the management there are justifying this aggression with the old tired and weak saw about ‘outside instigators’ even as the dozens arrested are identified as mostly locals.

  30. Denis says:

    You may say you’re Clarence Darrow, and you obviously think you’re
    Clarence Darrow, but if this thread is any indication of your skill in arguing
    a point, you ain’t learned much in 30 years. Examples of the way you
    respond to people making points (numbers are your comments):

    #24: Rubbish
    #35: What in the living hell are you jabbering about? . . . your inane claim of “hysteria”. . .
    bring your best shot. [OK, now Clarence is in full 7th grade playground mode]
    #36: Do you have anything less than 1,000 words+ of complete blather?
    #50: Bollocks. [That has a wonderful British ring to it! For those not from the UK, it means
    #54: Man, you come up with some consistently goofy stuff. [This is a legal response to a
    comment on due process.]
    #58: You quite clearly wouldn’t recognize established use of force law if it bit you in the
    ass. . . completely full of shit.
    #68: You, on the other hand, clearly don’t know your ass from hole in the ground . . .
    babbling longwinded hollow bullshit, and are too stupid to realize it.

    30 years, that’s pitiful. You are obviously still too inexperienced to see
    when you are being baited or to know what a civil discourse sounds like.
    I’ve faced off against my share of ego-twisted, ad hominem blowhards in
    court – I’d have you being escorted to the door by the bailiff before you
    could get your briefcase open. You’re out of your element, dude, in more
    ways than one. Free legal advice: keep you malpractice policy paid up.

    • bmaz says:

      I didn’t say I was Clarence Darrow, I said you were completely full of ignorant shit. And you are.
      And, yes, I understand that you relentlessly “bait” people here with your ignorant and goofy commentary. Some are more willing to take you up on that and point out the disservice you are doing to our comment threads and that you don’t have a clue what you are talking about most of the time. I was here long before you brought your shitshow garbage act here, and I will be here long after you are gone.

  31. bmaz says:

    Yes, there is a huge difference between “reasonableness” when it comes to reasonable suspicion, probable cause and certain levels of tort and other civil matters, and “reasonable doubt” as a standard at trial, whether bench or jury, for trial conviction on a criminal case.
    No, I do not think Yanez’s nose was reasonable, in fact, it appears to be patently unreasonable.
    But many, indeed most, traffic and nuisance violations are truly civil in nature. So, no, you do not get a jury. That said, and this is being overly brief, the general rule is that if incarceration is not mandatory, you don’t have to get a jury. But SCOTUS has gone even further to say that the real threshold is “serious crimes” See, e.g. Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66 (1970).
    As to ways to fix, I think the entire dynamic of interaction between government and citizen needs to be reimagined and rethought. Ironically, the “de-escalation” and community outreach efforts of the Dallas Police Department are admirable examples of a good start. Their actions and responses to the slaughter on their streets have been measured, relatively transparent and refreshing. Other PD’s and cities, have shown the other, worse, side. Here is a good group of folks, a couple of whom I know, doing pretty good work in this direction: The Policing Project at NYU

    • thatvisionthing says:

      But many, indeed most, traffic and nuisance violations are truly civil in nature. So, no, you do not get a jury. That said, and this is being overly brief, the general rule is that if incarceration is not mandatory, you don’t have to get a jury. But SCOTUS has gone even further to say that the real threshold is “serious crimes” See, e.g. Baldwin v. New York, 399 U.S. 66 (1970).

      I think therein lies the problem/s, but I want to think and research more before I reply. (Is there a civil constitution vs a criminal one?) Thanks, glad to learn more.

      • Evangelista says:


        “(Is there a civil constitution vs a criminal one?)”

        The United States Constitution recognizes three legal jurisdictions: One, Criminal, which requires allegation of a “crime”, which must, by definintion, be a “deliberate” action “knowingly and willfully and maliciously” motivated (not unintended or accidental); Two, Civil, in which a contract must be proved, which, for presumption of innocence, must be proved “knowingly, deliberately and intentionally” entered into by the accused violator of the contract (who must be presumed innocent of contracting, which precludes “implied contracts” and “presumed contracts”, and protects the dim and dull and trusting and naive from sharping); and, Three, Admiralty, which is the jurisdiction of International Merchant Law, which is the oldest continually operating system of law, originating in the Merchant Guilds in the Middle Ages, when law was local and at the whims of the local warlords (aristocrats, kings, princes, etc). The merchants, who traded between kingdoms or principalities needed their own law for their transactions between, not in, kingdoms. So they invented their own system. One had to be an international merchant to use the merchants’ law, of course, in nations the national law prevails. The U.S. Constitution’s inclusion of Admiralty jurisdiction allows United States Courts (not state courts) to convene in Admiralty to adjudicate disputes between international merchants. For Merchant Law jurisdiction to be invoked in a United States Court an international contract must be proved.

        International Merchant Law jurisdiction is a Roman Law governed system of law. Roman Law dates from Imperial Rome, where an Emperor defined the law and ‘owned’ everybody in his empire. For this an accusation made in the name of the emperor was, for being the Emperor’s accusation, deemed true on its face. The accused had to prove, not that the emperor was wrong, but that the emperor was ‘misinformed’. Thus, the Roman System is a Presumption of Guilt system, as is its successor, Napoleonic Law, which is Roman Law updated by Emperor Napoleon, in the 19th century.

        The United States’ native law (public law system) derived from English Law (when English Law was reflective of personal liberty) which presumed innocence (that each individual knows how to behave, and has an obligation to). The United States’ English Law system, Presumption of innocence based law system is incompatible with presumption of guilt. Thus, International Merchant Law, in the United States, is a parochial law system, a private law system, like church law and club law systems, applicable only to church or club members, or international merchants. Admiralty jurisdiction cannot be applied to persons accused under United States law. Thus the requirement for an international contract to be proved, to show the defendant an international merchant and subject to the jurisdiction (which, incidentally, is the jurisdiction of the high seas, between nations, and so the law mariners are subject to, hence the ‘Admiralty’).

        Admiralty, for being a Presumption of Guilt system, permits two things that native (public) law in the United States prohibits: One, assignment of punitive penalties and forfeitures (for presumption of willful guilt) and, two, impoundment of disputed goods (on presumption of guilt) prior to and ending resolution.

        The utility of the International Law Merchant for inter-state commerce within the United States was recognized in the late 19th century and in the early 20th century merchants, and bankers, organized to create a “Uniform Commercial Code” based on the International Law Merchant, for use between merchants within the United States. This new code was, and is, a parochial law code, owned by merchants, applicable only to merchants, and to them only in their merchant activities (not in their personal activities, when they are what they define, in their UCC, “end-users”. As end-users merchants are like all members of the United States public and are protected by Presumption of innocence, and civil procedures that only resolve issues of contract, with no presumption of wrongful intent or civil penalty impositions. To have courts to resolve their disputes, under their parochial law, the merchants requested of state legislatures that state courts be allowed to convene in UCC jurisdiction, as the Constitution permits Federal courts to in Admiralty. The permission was granted.

        Alas, the power to take on accusation and the authority to presume ‘criminal guilt’ for a contract violation, and so garner income by imposition of monetary “civil penalties” was too much for twentieth century magistrates to withstand, not withstanding oaths to uphold the Constitution and the fundamental law of the United States. Jurists began fudging and legislators began writing “laws” with (civil) penalties for, not wrongdoing, but “violation” of the “law”. The crux was a “presumption of contract” (illegal under presumption of innocnece of contracting) that was “tacitly recognized” by judges of courts (also called “judicial notice”) that all United States citizens have a commercial relationship with their state, federal, local and other authorities, for which all citizen “violations” of legislated (or judicially extended) “laws”,”statutes”, “codes”, “ordinances” and so on are violations of the presumed contract(s) and so are “contract violations”, which can be treated under a “commercial jurisdiction”, for which guilt can be presumed, penalties imposed, property can be impounded, persons can be imprisoned, and treated as guilty and already sentenced, even to shooting them if they say “bullshit” and turn and walk away. As proof of contract in an Admiralty case removes the contracting merchant from Constitutional protections and presumption of innocence, so the “tacitly noticed” new “commercial jurisdiction” removes citizens from Constitutional protections.

        And so here we are today, with a whole “commercial law” based “presumption of guilt” foundationed “statutory law” system “Tacitly” imposed upon us through “tacit” presumption that we are all contractees to our governments of all levels, with contractual obligations to “do as we are told” by the contracting statutes of our legislatures, and other government officials implemented “codes”, “ordinances”, “requirements”, etc.

        Our government of the People and by the People has perished. It has been usurped by the “servants”, who have abused the powers the People entrusted to them. In the United States system set up by The People, Presumption of Innocence protected the innocence of the innocent; The right to be innocent, to be trusting, to be naive, to not have to be ‘on the ball’, ‘sharp’, suspicious, on guard, ‘quicker than the other guy’ etc. was protected.

        In the present system SCOTUS is one of the conspirators. you don’t have to review very far in their decisions to see that they have been helping to stretch the net of the unConstitutional Commercial Law replacement system further over We the People. The law of the Constitution, it is stated in the Preamble, is law laid down by “We the People of these United States”, not for the People of the United States, but for the government of the United States; for those of the People who don the public servant’s livery and assume responsibilities for maintaining the government of the United States so that the United States preserves the blessings of Liberty to the People of the United States. Not the corporations, or any elite, the People, each and every innocent one.

        Today the ‘exceptionalism’ of the United States is the exceptionally wide-spread Treason of the governing of the United States, from the President of the usurper Commercial United States to the councilors and cops in the municipalities, who each, in each’s own larger or smaller pond, treat the People they are responsible to protect the liberties of as slaves subject to their “lawmaking” whims.

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